I’m not bold enough to call myself a writer. I’ve never really been published, save for a few internet articles and a national poetry contest in high school. I’m not a writer. I’m a person who writes a lot. I don’t even think I have a strong enough grasp on the english language to call myself a real writer.

I only do this because I don’t know how not to do it. I can’t imagine going to sleep at night with all these things bouncing around in my head. It’s not that I think I have great things to say. It’s just that I have to get them down. My bedroom is a wasteland of journals filled with things that have happened, things I wish would happen, or things that I hope I’ll never think of again. There’s a drawer full of notebooks in my room that I hope will miraculously burst into flames if I ever die an untimely death. I can’t handle the idea of anyone reading the composite crap I’ve dreamed up over the years.

I write about tragedies because I don’t know how anyone else gets through those things.

I recently wrote a post about my brother that may have been a solid example of oversharing. For more than half my life he’s battled drug addiction. It’s plagued my family. It altered my teenage years. It changed me, for better or worse. Maybe it’s not okay to put that down in words for the public to see, but it’s the only way I know how to cope. It’s his struggle, but it’s mine as well.

I write about the joys. The victories in life. Babies being born. Friends getting married. Driving on my own for the first time. Finishing college. Moving from Mississippi back to South Carolina. Memories we’ve made together. If you’ve made me laugh or feel good, there’s a good chance the story is saved on paper somewhere. There’s not a good chance I could find it, because none of this is organized. My filing system is as haphazard as the mechanics of my brain.

Someone recently asked me how I am so clever. Clever is entirely too kind of a word for it. I responded with “It’s not that I’m clever, I think I’m insane.” God forbid I take a compliment, but it’s just that the longer I live the more I feel like there’s not a whole lot of people out there like me. There’s not many of us who have to sit down every day and pound out our thoughts on a blog page or lined paper just so we can process it all.

I think normal people can just think about these things and move on. I don’t know how they do it, but I wish I did. It’d be a hell of a lot easier than spilling my guts all over a keyboard then scrapping the whole thing because it’s just not good enough. But I’ll keep doing it. I’ll keep doing it because, since I got my first diary in 1994, writing has been the only thing I’ve known to keep me going.

i almost ran over my friends… or something

Ten of my friends were piled behind my car with their hands on the bumper and trunk, ready to push. I was white knuckling the steering wheel and pressing both the brake and clutch to the floor. My friend Leigh sitting shotgun telling me  “you can do this” while tears poured down my face. I can still see the scrunched up look she gave me when I yelled “I’m not interested in killing most of my friends tonight!” 

I was barely 18 and the shiny black Volkswagen Cabrio had been mine for just a few months. It was stick shift. I told my parents I didn’t want stick shift. Like a bratty teenager, I found a reason to be unhappy with the awesome car they bought me. I whined while my dad patiently taught me how to drive it. In my defense, it’s not easy to learn manual in the mountains of North Carolina. It still amazes me that he didn’t just leave me out on a mountain road that day before returning the car to the dealer.

I pretty much had it down by the first day of school. 

That’s a lie.

I didn’t. 

On the first day I stalled out on the hill that used to mark the entrance to the Daniel High School student parking lot. You don’t want to stall out during the morning rush to school in front of everyone, but sometimes you do and then you pick up and move on with your life despite the humiliation.

By the time Thanksgiving break rolled around, I definitely had it figured out. I was basically a pro. I was teaching my friends how to drive in local parking lots like some sort of stick shift scholar. I knew it all. Until I didn’t.

That Friday we all piled on Andy’s living room floor to watch the live action movie version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ll admit it’s probably a god-awful movie if you didn’t grow up wrapping ties around your head and pretending to be Michelangelo. Regardless, that’s where we were when I found out just what I didn’t know about driving stick. 

The movie ended. We had some laughs about the early 90s special effects that went into making Splinter come to life. We thanked Andy for having us over and headed out the door to our cars. Mine was gone. It wasn’t where I parked it. The discovery went a little something like this:

Me: “Hey, where’d y’all put my car?”

Them: “What are you talking about?”

Me: “Hilarious, but really, where is my car?”

Them: “We were all inside with you. What could we have possibly done to your car.”

Them: “Wait, is that your car?”

There she was. Off the side of the bottom of the driveway. Possibly smashed into a tree. I couldn’t tell from where I was, but I knew it was her. She was easily identifiable by the shape of the darkened headlights staring back at us.

“Jesus Christ! What happened?”   

Three minutes later I was in the driver’s seat crushing the clutch and the brake. Almost a dozen of my closest friends were lined up and ready to push. All I had to do was convince my right foot to move from brake to gas. That was all I had to do and yet I couldn’t think of anything except the horrific scene I’d leave behind when my car rolled backwards over all of them. I was imagining the moment I’d climb out of the driver’s seat to survey their lifeless bodies. I was thinking about all the calls I’d have to make to police, to parents. 

Why had I put on my seatbelt? We hadn’t even technically left Andy’s yard. My tiny car was resting on a giant stump, not smashed into a tree but saved by a stump halfway down the steep slope of his lawn. My friends were grabbing taillights and volunteering their lives (so I thought)… and I’d put on my seatbelt.

Most of the moments inside the car are a blur to me now. I know I yelled several variations of “I can’t do it!” while Leigh remained calm. A total role reversal for the two of us, and I’m sure she’d agree. I don’t remember the exact moment I managed to finally shift my right foot over the few inches necessary to just get out of there. I do remember the sound of my friends screaming as mud flew up in their faces. Once I shifted the whole ordeal was over in less than a minute. My car and I were back on the driveway without a scratch. My friends were covered in red mud, but completely unharmed and mostly still laughing.

I don’t even have the car anymore. I drove her for five years before trading her to a Chevy salesman in Mississippi in a deal I regret to this day. I hope she’s serving someone else well. I hope some teenage girl is cruising around with the top down singing ‘Me & Bobby McGee’ at the top of her lungs. I hope her new driver is an optimist who looks up at cloudy skies and figures she can make it all the way home with the top down before the rain starts. I hope she’ll drive that little cabrio to the top of a parking garage with her friends where they’ll turn up the music and dance above their city. I hope, more than anything, when she parks her on a hill she’ll know not to rely solely on the emergency brake. 


instagram hearts

I was talking a friend down from worrying about whether or not a guy was going to “like” her photo on Instagram when it hit me. This is where we are now? We’re posting photos for the sole purpose of getting that one special person to notice it and hit a little heart with his thumb. It’s a motion that takes half a second, but we’re putting the weight of entire potential relationships on it.

Forgive my french, but shit. Technology has screwed us up, y’all. We need a break.

Consider this: Instagram is a FREE app. You probably downloaded it to your phone last year (or if you’re a real tech genius – in 2011). You’ve posted, what, between 400 and 500 photos by now? You’re documenting everything from your cute brunch drink to your day on the beach. You’re spending 3 to 5 minutes taking a photo, choosing a filter, and posting it into the abyss of the handheld internet. Do you realize how many thumbs will scroll right past it? How often do you swipe through your feed because you’re bored? Do you “like” everything you see? (God, I hope not — That would make you incredibly annoying).

So then, are you honestly thinking that he is making a conscious decision to like or not like the incredible piece of art you posted (Read: Selfie on the beach)? You think he’s scrolling through Instagram during his lunch break thinking “If I like this, she may think we’re moving too fast”.  Or maybe he’s playing hard to get “I better not like this, lest she think I’m going to propose”.

I’m so sorry for laughing at your genuine concern. Really, I mean it. I know I’m your sarcastic friend… but please hear the seriousness in my voice when I ask this — is this really what we’re worrying about now? I don’t get to just freak out over how long it takes a guy to answer a text or call me back, like the women of olde? Now I have to wonder if, in a quick moment of boredom, he thought my meaningless photo (with the absolutely gorgeous filter action) was worthy of a tap of the thumb?

i was 17

We weren’t at war when he enlisted. My brother was 19 and we were in the few years of peace we’ve had in my lifetime. It was March 2001 and nobody wanted him to do it, but a kid gets in his mind he wants to serve and good luck stopping him. Basic training, jump school and the 9-11 attacks later we were at war and the risk of putting his name on that paper had reached an entirely new level.

I was 13 then. As far as I understood my brother was a hero who’d left me at home with the other brother who certainly wasn’t going to help me with my jump shot.

I was 16 when he left for Iraq. Three years and a couple of history and geography classes down, I knew the risk. I knew if my brother was lucky enough to come back in one piece, he’d come back changed. I knew the lanky boy who taught me where to place my fingers on a football to get the perfect spiral would see things none of us should ever see.

He’d call when he could from a satellite phone. The conversations were always broken, but never without the reminder he’d be home in time to intimidate whatever poor soul asked me to junior prom. He always talked about coming home as though it was fact. This was a 23 year old man whose every step was a gamble. A special forces marine with his fragile life at the mercy of the placement of IEDs. He knew, on a primal level, the reality of death but his only job when he heard my voice on the other end of the line was to find a way to distract me from the horror of it all.

I was 17 when he sent his girlfriend 6 hours up a Carolina highway to take me shopping for my birthday. He’d missed my birthday before for other deployments, but this time he’d gone all in on making sure I knew he wished he could be — not just on American soil — but by my side to celebrate. The note he sent along with her was short and ended with “tell your prom date I’ll see him in April”.

I was still 17 when he returned in one piece, at least physically. I was 17 and running for student council. He was 23 and marred by destruction, death and the loss of friends who’d served by his side. He came home harder than he’d left, with a darkness that I couldn’t understand and was afraid to ask about.

I was 18 when he cut his hand during a night of drinking at a family party. I was sober, a DD, the only person willing and able to take him to a hospital. We argued for what seemed like an hour. I was angrier than I’d ever been. It was the type of fight I’d sworn to God I would never have with him again as long as he’d bring him home from Iraq alive. His hand was sliced from thumb to wrist and it needed a doctor’s attention. Somewhere between me yelling at him and trying to enlist my other brother’s help, we lost him. He disappeared only to return 20 minutes later with his hand crudely sewn up with fishing line. I was 18 when my drunk, marine corps bear-of-a-man brother sewed up his own hand “because that’s what we would’ve done over there.”

I was 24 when I finally had the courage to ask him what it was really like. Until then every story had been about children he’d met while they were restocking schools, or wild animals he’d seen during patrols. He’d told me the stories you tell kids so they don’t have to know the reality of war. I was 24 when he finally told me some, certainly not all, of what he saw and I don’t know how old I’ll be when I’m finally able to forget it.

me vs. huffington post

 Huffington Post asked for reader input on things you should never say to a tall woman. This is just the latest in a series they appear to be doing called “Things You Should Never Say To A (__insert adjective__) Woman”. I find these posts a bit lazy and very annoying. I’m 6’1” so I’m going to snarkily respond to this one. The list is below. My  comments are italicized:

 “It must be hard to find a man who’s comfortable with your height.” Oh, come on. It’s not hard to find a MAN who is comfortable with something. BOYS are uncomfortable with crazy things like that, men have real world problems to handle.

“You have long feet.” Uhhh duh. That’s so I can stand upright. 

“I wish I was as tall as you.” But you’re not and that’s cool because it’d be weird if we were all the same height.

“You must have played basketball in high school!” I get this one all the time. It never makes me mad. It’s just weird that everyone thinks he or she is the first person to say it. 

“Good luck finding a husband!” What? Nobody says that. This is insane. Who made this list?

How TALL are you?!?!” Okay, i joke a lot about this one on twitter because I often have people stop me on the street to tell me how tall I am or try to guess. It’s uncomfortable when they’re way off, but asking how tall I am is far from rude. That’s just people being curious little people. Whatever, get over it. 

“Have you always been this tallYes. I was born this way…??? Is this a real list?

“You shouldn’t wear heels.” Two things: 1) I don’t need someone to convince me I don’t have to wear heels. They’re hella uncomfortable. 2) I don’t take fashion advice from anyone… anytime. This is why sometimes I end up wearing Air Force Ones to a bachelorette weekend or Jorts out on the town, but I’m me and I’m stubborn… so save your breath.

Being petite is so much harder than being tall.” Because you can’t see over my head at concerts? I truly am sorry about that.

“Do you play volleyball?” like, ever? sure! Sometimes I even play with short people because have you seen ‘Top Gun’? Tom Cruise was pretty good at volleyball. But I never play in jeans on a beach like Tom because that is unacceptable no matter your height. 

‘You’re an Amazon.” Alright. You have me on this one. This is incredibly rude. Maybe don’t say this… ever.

“Could you grab that for me?” Sure! No problem!

You could be a model… you know, height-wise…” Only half of this is ever actually said to anyone because you’d have to be a real A-hole to add the clarification, but if someone says the whole phrase maybe just pretend you only heard the first half. Glass half-full – keep on the sunny side – etc. etc.

“You must have trouble finding nice clothes.” Everybody has trouble finding nice clothes. Have you ever been shopping with a woman? It’s an ordeal. 

“When are you going to stop growing?” About 5 years ago

“I’d date you if you were shorter.” HaHaHa this is just a negative spin on the classics “If I were taller would you date me?” and a rather inappropriate and unoriginal line involving the word “horizontal”  


In short (no pun intended), Huffington Post Women, these articles are weak. Please stop. These are wasting space you could devote to some piece about the latest research in gender equality or whatever other great things you do. I’m not interested in long lists of things people should not be allowed to say to me. I’d rather just laugh about the things that make me different. It’s a lot more fun.